By Nalini Cook
ISC Research announced the Edruptors of 2022 in January and it was wonderful to see so many names I know and trust on the list. In my role as a field researcher at ISC Research, I love talking in-depth with international school leaders and educators, mostly about the changes and challenges happening in their schools and countries. But it’s on social media that I often feel I really get to know more about them, what they are passionate about, what they value and what’s inspiring them.
Our research team spent quite a bit of time talking to a few of the Edruptors to discover more about how they’ve built an influential voice amongst their peers. Our white paper shares some of their advice, which provides something of a guide to crafting an authentic professional voice in the social space.
Looking back through their full interviews in our research archives, I pulled out some of my favourite comments which are an extension of the advice published in the report.
Trusted and diverse sources
I love what Liz Free, CEO and Director of the International School Rheintal in Switzerland, says about using social media to gather a breadth of opinions rather than a single mindset that reflects your own ideas. “Who are you going to for advice? How do you make sure that you’re getting diversity of thought? Are you surrounding yourself with people who are exactly like you in your networks?” Liz said to us.
This is so important to form a balanced and informed view, as well as to value the voices of others, particularly those who have traditionally not had the chance to speak out within the international school sector. Liz shared a clear message related to this: “What we talk about in the international school sector is international mindedness for global citizenship. Are you really modelling that and looking around at what your sources of information are?” she said.
The value of social listening
Sunny Thakral, Head of Computer Science and Awards Coordinator at Brighton College Bangkok in Thailand, highlighted the value of social listening in order to develop understanding about particular areas of interest. “When I’m looking at being selective, it’s about looking at what’s [being said] in that particular field; what are the pros and cons, talking to a lot of people, just lurking in forums or hashtags and chats and looking at what direction people are going, and then building informed opinion,” he said. This approach is one I’m taking as I gather an understanding of AI and ChatGPT within a school setting. For now, I’m listening and learning.
Sunny uses lists in Twitter to group people by areas of interest, and uses bookmarks and reading lists to help him manage the “avalanche of content that’s out there” to avoid being overwhelmed. I’m following his advice and it’s so helpful!
There’s plenty of advice in the white paper from some of our Edruptors about the channels they favour and why. I agree with Angeline Aow’s original view of LinkedIn. Angeline, who is the Curriculum Coordinator at Berlin International School in Germany, said, “I never really used LinkedIn because [it] was like a place where you go for a job market. That was my impression initially.” But she then added: “Now I see it as also a social media tool where I connect with educators but also with professionals.”
I formed the same opinion of LinkedIn originally and rarely actively used it. Now it is my social media channel of preference for connecting and engaging with international school leaders of all levels, as well as many thought leaders within the wider education sector.
Know your context
Some valuable points are mentioned in the white paper about being a critical consumer of content. I think Patrick O’Shaughnessy, Head of Humanities at St Christopher’s School in Bahrain, explains this very well when he says, “You’ve always got to be thinking, how would what I’ve seen on social media fit in my context? Does it add any genuine value and why?” He goes on to explain that what works in one school or organisation setting might not work in another.
This is an important message for leaders. Don’t react if you see your peers speaking out on social media about a particular initiative or area of focus that your school is not addressing. Every school has its own context and priorities, its own vision and mission. So be a critical consumer of content. Social media can nourish if you widen your lens and learn, and connect with global peers. See you on LinkedIn!
Nalini Cook is Head of Global Research at ISC Research. Connect with her directly on LinkedIn